Getting dressed (without the fuss)
Meet The Telegraph's new Timeless Style columnist, Anna Harvey. The Ex-Vogue deputy editor, consultant to Princess Diana and author of Timeless Style: dressing well for the rest of your life (£12.89, Double-Barrelled Books).
After the recent deluge of commentary in the press recently about what women should avoid wearing, I am aware that (as well as leather trousers) sleeveless dresses cause debate.
For me, the search for dresses with sleeves has been long and often unrewarding, which is frustrating considering how many older women cry out for them. The underarm area - one of wrinkles and doubtful shadows - is not attractive unless you are very young; it is certainly not something anyone over a certain age and loss of fitness wants to show.
Samantha Sung Lilly of the Valley dress, £425, KJs Laundry
A sleeve is not just a sleeve, either. There are various types and several lengths. The Dolman is a loose sleeve cut in one piece with the body of a garment - it has a curved shoulder silhouette, which may not suit heavier frames.
The Raglan extends in one piece to the collar, leaving a diagonal seam from underarm to collarbone. This is often used in knitwear and helps when wearing a knit under a jacket or coat.
The most common sleeve is set-in – a sleeve sewn into a shoulder seam and arm hole. It gives a clean, sharp, shoulder shape and suits all figures.
There are of course others types of sleeve, including puff, but I am leaving that style for the birds! Length is also worth mentioning. The short or 'cap’ sleeve works well when one has slim, toned upper arms. A sleeve that ends just above the elbow hides 'wings’ but exposes the elbow - which is, a bit like knees, not always the most attractive area. Short of a full-length sleeve, one which ends just below the elbow is probably the most flattering.
One British designer who consistently celebrates the sleeve is Erdem and the prettiest dress of the spring in my opinion is this one. It’s not ideal if you have no waist, but it would look good on most other figures and has inspired me to search for other dresses to solve the bare arm challenge come spring.
It may for once not be a hopeless task - big, decorative sleeves are more important than ever this season. Several designers showed big romantic sleeves for spring: pleated, trimmed extravagantly with lace and often in crisp white. Nothing perks up a pair of smart trousers (even jeans) or skirt, long or short, more than a romantic shirt.
Chloe showed some of the most beautiful, along with Roksanda, Stella McCartney and Simone Rocha among others. No doubt these will inspire many high street pieces over the coming weeks and months. Which is happy news for us all.